Hopes for an end to the island's devastating civil war were raised when Tamil Tiger rebels responded positively on Thursday to a power-sharing proposal.

   

The Tigers stopped the talks in April, but now say they are considering a government proposal to set up an administration in the Tamil-majority north and east.

   

Cabinet spokesman G.L. Peiris said: "It is our expectation that in the course of September these discussions will resume."

 

Interim administration

   

He said the rebels would meet next week in Paris with legal and constitutional advisers to come up with a response to the government proposal.

   

After the Tigers make their reply, a face-to-face meeting will take place.

 

"The issues are such that they cannot possibly be resolved by unilateral declarations or by a continuing correspondence," Peiris added.

 

 

 

The government draft proposes a Provincial Administrative Council consisting of members of the government and opposition in Sri Lanka's north and east.

 

The Sri Lankan army has fought
a brutal civil war with the Tamil
Tigers for 20 years 

However, the majority of the members will be nominated by the Tigers.

 

International pressure

   

The council would have wide powers, including for reconstruction and resettlement, but would not control policing, security, land and revenue.

 

The Tamil Tigers have been under international pressure to settle with the Singhalese-dominated governemnt.

 

US State Department spokesman Philip T Reeker criticized the Tigers on Wednesday for carrying out more than three dozen assassinations of political opponents.

 

The US and Britain have also put the Tigers on an international list of terrorist organisations.       

The rebels have been fighting for a separate Tamil state in the north and east, but said during earlier rounds of talks they are willing to settle for a political solution.